Doin' Good, Part Two

>> Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Continuing onward on my quest to highlight some of the people who are actively working to make the world better, do the right thing, I thought I'd pass along this interview with Dr. Peter Pronovost, one of those making the world better.

Dr. Provonost set up a program to reduce secondary infections at the Intensive Care Unit at John Hopkins. Not using nuclear weapons or a miracle cure, but by creating a checklist and holding doctors (and everyone else) to it. Part of the process involves empowering nurses, giving them power to stop the process if the doctor hasn't washed his hands or is missing something critical.

I love this for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that reducing infections saves lives, saves money and reduce time in the hospital. It is providing good care. But, more than the intent, I like that his process has been successful. His checklist is credited with saving 1500 lives and $100 million in Michigan in a single eighteen month period.

Success is good.

But I also like it from my safety engineer persona. He saw a preventable hazard and addressed it, knowing it could be prevented. That's what safety engineers do. Sure, we often work in risky ventures where there are some unknowns we can't see coming and some issues we just can't fix. But we push to fix what we can fix. When he talked about stopping a surgery because a patient had a latex allergy, I could so have been there.

Dr. Provonost wants secondary infections from hospitals to become a thing of the past. And he has a method with a good track record for doing so.

That's doin' good. Good for him. Good for all of us.

I respect that.


  • Roy

    Amazing! I thought all of that on the checklist was SOP. Live and learn!

  • Project Savior

    It's amazing the power of simple ideas in complex situations.
    Hopefully the power of a checklist will spread out to other fields as well.

  • The Mother

    They laughed at Semmelweis. He died in a mental institution, put there because he was convinced there were little beasties that killed post partum women.

  • Stephanie Barr

    I had to look him up. Sad. Very sad.

    Not sure his beliefs were the only reason he was killed (effectively) in the asylum or put there, but his work was clearly ahead of its time. And I can sympathize with his passion - how frustrating it is to see people die when it can be easily prevented.

    Thanks for pointing him out.

  • flit

    is it not bizarre that we even need such ~innovative~ programs?

    It's great that he took the initiative to get it going - but sad that it was needed!

  • Jeff King

    This is something I wouldn't have known, if it wasn't for you... thx for sharing.

  • The Mother

    Semmelweis was considered a political liability by the docs at the time. They refused to believe that THEIR hands were unclean, or that they might be the agents who spread disease. Yes, his institutionalization and subsequent death was politically motivated to get him the hell out of the picture.

    He wasn't the only one vilified for pointing it out. An ob in Scotland was run out of town.

  • Relax Max

    It's not that I don't understand these things. It's just that I don't understand.

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